Runcu Gorges

The Runcu Gorges (Romanian: Cheile Runcului) are a natural reserve (20 ha) located in the extreme north of Alba County, at the Cluj County border, situated on the Ocoliş commune territory between Lunca Largă village at north and Runcu village at south. It is a complex reserve, consisting of a very beautiful landscape, a set of slopes, ridges and towers. Access roads: on 75 National Road Turda-Câmpeni up to the confluence of the Ocoliş Stream with the Arieş River, then by the village road towards north, on the Ocoliş Valley, about 5 km until the entry into the Runcului Gorges.

Runcu Gorges are located in the east of the Muntele Mare Massif, on the Ocoliş Stream banks, left tributary of the Arieş River. Geographic coordinates: 46°31'N, 23°22'E. Altitude: 595 m (at the entrance of Ocoliş Stream in the gorges) and 500 m (at the the output of the stream). Runcu Gorge is the most spectacular morphological breakthrough in the Vulturese limestone, not so much by their length, which exceeds 1 km, but by the vertical scale of development, the relief on the perimeter keys sometimes exceeding 450 m. The gorges territory is mostly state owned, in general as unproductive land and forest land, but also in private agricultural use (meadows, pastures, meadows and, in lesser extent, cultivated land). The Runcului Gorges can be crossed by car.

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Two national anthems

Ciprian Porumbescu (1853 – 1883) was an Romanian composer, among the most celebrated of his time. He is known also to be the only that composed the national anthems of two countries.

His composition Pe-al nostru steag e scris "Unire" (On our flag is written "Union") was adopted in 1912 as national anthem of Albania, as Himni i Flamurit (Hymn to the Flag).

Hymn and flag of Albania (since 1912)

Trei culori ("Three colours") was the national anthem of Romania from 1977 until 1989, during the last stage of the Communist regime. Since the anti-communist Romanian Revolution of 1989 it been replaced by Deşteaptă-te, române! (Wake-up, Romanian!).

Hymn and flag of Socialist Republic of Romania (1977-1989)

Marius Daniel Popescu

Marius Daniel Popescu was born in 1963 in Craiova, Romania. In his native country he was a poet, he frequented literary circles in Braşov and had been part of the "Group of Braşov". He lives in Lausanne since 1990. He taught himself all the subtleties of the French language and in the first five to six years in Switzerland has improved learning French. At the beginning of his new literary career, wrote lyrics in French. His ambition was to publish in Paris and wrote his great novel.

Bus driver during the day, writer during the night, Marius made his literary debut with a novel published in 2007 at José Corti Publishing House in Paris. La Symphonie du loup (Symphony of the wolf) is an autobiographical novel that crosses many cultures and generations in Romania under the dictatorship. The author evokes scenes from his adolescence, incidental death of his father, remembering his grandfather, tutelary figure which has replaced the one of the father since its disappearance.

Walser Prize, named after a famous Swiss writer and poet Robert Walser (1878-1956), is awarded every two years, rewarding debut novel for young authors. The novel has seduced the jury through the story and writing style. It is the first time that this award is given to a writer of French expression. It is noted that Marius Daniel Popescu did not know French at all at the time he came in Lausanne. In 2009 he published a sequel to his debut novel, Les Couleurs de l'hirondelle (The colors of the swallow).

World's strongest kid

Giuliano Stroe (born 18 July 2004) is a Romanian bodybuilder and gymnast. Giuliano Stroe has been lifting weights since he was two-years-old in Florence, Italy where his family lives. Giuliano's father Iulian, said he has been taking Giuliano with him to the gym ever since he was born, but he is careful not to push Giuliano too hard. Stroe insists his son's workout schedule isn't excessive. "He is never allowed to practice on his own, he is only a child and if he gets tired we go and play," Iulian said.

In 2009, he was recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records after setting the record for the fastest ever 10 m hand-walk with a weight ball between his legs. Stroe performed the stunt in front of a cheering live audience on an Italian TV Show, and has become an Internet sensation as hundreds of thousands of people have watched the clip of him performing the stunt on YouTube.

On February 24, 2010 he broke the world record for number of air push-ups, which is an exercise where push-ups are performed without letting your feet touch the ground. Stroe managed 20 'air push ups' beating his previous record of 12, live on Romanian TV.

On the same TV show, he broke another world record, for 'the human flag' - an exercise in which he had to support all the weight parallel to the ground, the hands hanging by a bar.

The largest decorated Easter egg in the World

The largest painted Easter egg in the world

A traditional decorated Easter egg placed in the city of Suceava, Suceava County, Bukovina, Romania, was declared by the World Records Academy to be the largest decorated Easter egg in the world. The egg, realized in glass fiber, is 7.55 m high, has a diameter of 4.6 m and a weight of 1800 kg. It is decorated using traditional Romanian motifs, approved by the archbishop of Suceava and Rădăuţ, and traditional colors: red (symbolizing the blood of Jesus), black (the eternity) and yellow (the light).

The greatest Easter chocolate egg was realized in St. Niklaas, Belgium (8.3 m) and the greatest Easter egg was realized in Lisbon, Portugal (14,91 m).

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The representative of World Records Academy, who homologated the record, declared: "It is a great honor for me to represent the World Records Academy in Suceava, in the fortress of Stefan the Great and Saint. There is probably no other place where the (Orthodox) Easter traditions are so well kept and so vibrant, as here, in the heart of Bukovina. This was proved today as well by the creation of this symbol of the Bucovinian traditions – the 7.25 meter high painted Easter egg. On behalf of the World Records Academy, I congratulate you for having established this new world record: the Largest Painted Easter Egg".

Panorama by Michael Pop.

Mikó Fortress, Miercurea-Ciuc

The Mikó Fortress, with its Italian-style bastions and regular geometrical plan, built in late Renaissance style, is the oldest and most important monument of Miercurea-Ciuc. It bears the name of its builder, Hidvégi Mikó Ferenc (1585-1635), in the documents of time being referred as the New Mikó's Citadel. The fortress construction began in 1623, ten years after Mikó Ferenc became the supreme master of Szekely seats (counties) Ciuc, Gheorgheni, and Casin. Leading figure in political life of Transylvania in the early 17th century, Mikó Ferenc, besides this function was also the prince Gabriel Bethlen's adviser, a diplomat and a columnist.

The building of the castle with a quadrilateral plan (75x70 m) was completed probably in the thirties of the 17th century. The first written document proving the existence of the fortress dates from 1631. Mikó received as a gift from Gabriel Bethlen the Szereda princely domain field and the approval for the construction of the citadel. However, his heir Mikó József was sued by Pánczélos István and Balázs from Martonfalva because his father has acquired their lands without compensation when building the citadel. After 1636 the citadel passes to Damokos Tamás, Ciuc county supreme.

On 21 October 1661, the Turkish-Tatar army led by Ali, pasha of Timişoara, invaded Ciuc county and occupied and burned the citadel. Is was reconstructed between 1714-1716 under Imperial General Stephan Steinville, as is certified in a stone inscription placed above the entrance gate of the citadel. In 1735, the Austrian colonel and engineer Johann Conrad Weiss made the plan of the citadel, the oldest known so far, which is an important document on the history and construction stages of the fortress.

Around the rebuilt fortress the Austrians developed a defense system with four Italian-style bastions, whose traces are still visible on the southern side. On the west side was built a store for gunpowder and the south-western bastion was transformed into a chapel. The chapel ceiling is decorated with late Baroque stucco decorations and the Gothic windows frames is the result of subsequent processing. The ground floor rooms have dome shaped semi-cylindrical ceilings, with dual radial curvature groins. Demarcation of levels is marked out by a belt of carved stone. Every stronghold, at the height of the bridge, has shooting goals.

The reinforced fortress was an important strategic point on the eastern border of the Habsburg Empire. Until the organization of Szekler border regiments (1764), it hosted barracks for the Imperial troops, and thereafter until 1849, headquarter of 1st Székely Border Regiment commander. During the Revolution of 1848-1849 it was headquarter of the Szekler revolutionary army leader, Gál Sándor. After the defeat of the revolution, the citadel remained in use of the army. In 1890 was built on one side and another of the gate-stronghold a building, which was demolished in 1990.

In the 1880s was filled the castle moat. By the mid-twentieth century, with little interruption, the fortress was used by the military. In 1970, after a general restoration, in the fortress was moved the Ciuc Székely Museum, founded in 1930.

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Mikes Castle, Zăbala

Zăbala (Hungarian: Zabola) is a village in Covasna County, Transylvania, Romania, located at 7 km from Covasna. It was attested in 1567 and it formed part of the Székely Land region of the historical Transylvania province. Until 1918, the village belonged to the Háromszék (Three Chairs) County of the Kingdom of Hungary. After the Treaty of Trianon of 1920, it became part of Romania. The commune has a Székely Hungarian majority (76.55%). Zăbala is renowned for the beautiful castle of Mikes counts, which gathers specific architecture of the mansions of Covasna County and folk architecture elements.

The Mikes Castle dates back to the 16th century. It was built on the remaining of an early fortified building which is suspected to be burned down in the liberation war of Transylvania. Under Communism the Castle and the estate was a children home, hospital, school. Especially in the last 20 years the buildings and the park were neglected. The castle was returned to the descendants of Count Mikes, Gregor and Alexander Roy Chowghury, which transformed it into a great tourism location. As a first step in bringing the estate back to life archaeological research has been initiated. Research is also being undertaken in the archives.

On the first floor all the ceilings were covered (currently painted over) with Frescoes from 1867 when the building was extended and redecorated. The Castle is connected through a 50m long tunnel with a large villa built around 1900 for hosting the offices of the Estate and rooms for the guests of the family as well as a large kitchen. Next to the building there was a small church. Mid 19th Century the church was demolished. Count Mikes Benedek provided a plot in the center of the village were he used the material to build a new Catholic church. The family crypt behind the castle has been destroyed in 1948 and demolished in the 1960s.

The 34 ha park, with lakes and ponds, at the foot of the Carpathian Mountains offers a splendid view both to the mountains and the Háromszék Highland. The park was first designed to have its current shape at the beginning of the 18th century, and was then adapted and modified by each following generation. The current shape was created by the renowned French garden designer Achille Duchene. The estate owns forests, agricultural land and buildings spread over the county and other parts of Transylvania.

Infos and photos from and other minor sources.

Wass-Banffy Castle, Gilău

Gilău (Hungarian: Gyalu, Saxon German: Gelu, German: Gelau, Julmarkt, Jalmarkt) is a commune in Cluj County, Romania, located at 15 km west of Cluj. In the south of the village are remains of a Roman military camp (castrum) and a Roman civilian settlement. It was the first castrum in Transylvania where archaeologists have clearly identified the sequence between the camp of earth and wood and the stone camp that followed (dimensions: 138 x 221 m). Etymologically, it was hypothesized that such the name Gilău derived from Gelu. According to the anonymous chronicler of King Bela IV, prince Gelu died at the confluence of Căpuş Creek with Someşul Mic River on Gilău village territory, while withdrawing from the Hungarian hordes of Tuhutum to his citadel Dăbâca (ad castrum suum).

Wass-Banffy Castle in Gilău is a historical monument of Cluj County, being surrounded by a natural park of approximately 11 hectares. Initially a fortress, it was built after the year 1439, by order of Bishop Lepes and in the 1500s, was transformed into a castle in the Renaissance style, by Bishop Gerb László. Between 1599-1601, the castle belonged to Michael the Brave. As a result of a fire, the castle was damaged and after that was rebuilt and restored several times. In the last decades, the castle was used by the Gilău High-school.

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Kornis Castle, Mănăstirea

Mănăstirea (former Benediug, alternate Benediugu Dejului, Hungarian: Szentbenedek), is a village in Cluj County, Transylvania, Romania. It was attested in 1308 and it is located 4 km from Dej and 10 km from Gherla. Here is the Kornis Castle, an important historical monument.

The main building of the castle was built by Keresztúri Kristóf between 1573-1593 in Renaissance style. Over time, the castle has been filled with secondary buildings forming a rectangular enclosure. Once the area becomes the property Kornis family around the year 1673, Kornis Gáspár (1641-1683) II raised the floor of main building, on southern side.

Kornis Castle, as it was in 19th century. Reconstruction by Radu Oltean

His son, Kornis Zsigmond renovated the castle in 1680. He repaired the castle after it was damaged during the Kurutz uprising in the early 18th century, and in 1720 added two new octagonal bastions in the north, and restored the entrance of the castle tower on the west side, which still exists today. During this period were redecorated the rooms with frescoes on the ceilings, were restored the wooden frames of last floor and the staircase decorated with folk motifs, and added decorations made of Dej tuff stone.

At the entrance of the castle was an old suspended bridge, which was raised during the night or in case of danger. The gate was flanked by unicorns, unicorns that appear also on Kornis family coat-of-arms. At the center of the enclosure is an octagonal fountain, surrounded by circular columns and arches. In the north-eastern area is a pavilion built in 1825, decorated on two sides with Doric columns.

During the Second World War part of the castle was destroyed and after the nationalization its collections were burned by the Communists or were stolen. The castle library contained over 9,000 volumes before destruction, consisting of collections of rare books. It was destroyed also the vast collection of natural history. Between 1975-1976 was rebuilt only part of the masonry, but there were no serious work of restoration and the castle is now in ruins.

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Densuş Church

Densuş (German: Demsdorf, Hungarian: Demsus) is a commune in Hunedoara County, Transylvania, Romania. It seems that the name comes from the Latin Silva Densa (dense forest).

St. Nicholas Church is one of the oldest Romanian churches still standing. It was built in the 7th century with additions made in the 13th century on the site of a 2nd century Roman temple, with some materials from the Dacian Sarmizegetusa fortress. It has a stone tower above the naos. Inside the church there are 15th century mural paintings that show Jesus wearing Romanian traditional clothes.

It is considered that on the setting of the present day church, there was once a Dacian temple dedicated to Zamolxis, upon which the conquering Romans built a temple dedicated to the god Mars. After the Roman administrative withdrawal, the temple became a Christian church, and sermons were held there. Its present form dates from the beginning of the 12th century. Considering its tradition, it dates from the IV century AD, and is considered the oldest church in Romania and South East Europe, and historically its present form dates from the 12th century.

One of the hypotheses about Densuş is that it was once a pagan temple, and to sustain this argument, it is shown that: the altar of the church is closer to the South than to the East, which would suggest that it was once a pagan temple, because all Christian houses of worship have the altar pointing towards the East. Other clues are the form of the roof, which, seen from a lateral perspective, has the form of a bird, to be exact a dove, and above the altar there are two stone lions, united by their tails. Another hypothesis, based on inscriptions found inside the church, holds that it was originally built as a mausoleum to the Roman general Longinus Maximus.

Constantin Miculescu

Constantin Miculescu (September 6, 1863, Crevenicu - December 29, 1937, Bucharest) was a Romanian physician and had notable results in thermodynamics and optics. His main contribution to physics can be found even in his doctoral dissertation, in which he presented a precise method for the determination of the mechanical equivalent of heat (calories).

Between 1882-1886 he attended the Faculty of Sciences, Department of Physics and Mathematics, University of Bucharest, where he had Emanoil Bacaloglu as a teacher. He obtained a scholarship in 1888 at Paris University, obtaining a degree in science from the Sorbonne. He completed his doctor's degree with thesis Sur la determination de l'équivalent mécanique de la calorie, under the guidance of Professor Gabriel Lippmann (1845-1921), future laureate of Nobel Prize for Physics in 1908.

In 1891 he occupied as a substitute teacher the chair remained vacant after the death of Emanoil Bacaloglu, then (1894) he became Professor of molecular, acoustic and optical physics, post he occupied until his death in 1937. Since 1900, he served as inspector of education and member of the Permanent Council of the Ministry of Education. He was elected in 1904 as a member of the Governing Board of the French Physical Society and in 1909 as a member of the International Committee responsible for collecting and publishing constants in chemistry, physics and technology of the Congress of Chemistry in London. Between 1923-1928, Prof. Dr. Constantin Miculescu was Dean of the Faculty of Sciences in Bucharest.

Constantin Miculescu invented a calorimeter and an original method for accurately measuring the mechanical equivalent of heat. Hence, the 4.1857 J/calorie value was taken over as such by the international tables, becoming a fundamental constant of thermodynamics. In 1950, the value established by Miculescu has only its 4th decimal corrected, i.e. 4.1855 J/calorie. He also organized the molecular, acoustical and optical physics laboratories of the Bucharest University, where he invented in i905 a method for determining the refractive index of a prism with a microscope, then in 1910 an acoustical method for measuring the elasticity coefficient of objects.

Vasile Kazar

Vasile Kazar (30 July 30, 1913, Sighet - March 21, 1998) was a graphic artist, draughtsman, and illustrator, one of the most important Romanian contemporary artists.

Vasile Kazar was born into a wealthy family of Hebrew intellectuals, which allowed him after graduating high school in his hometown to continue his studies in Baia Mare, Budapest, and at the Academie Grande Chaumière in Paris. He began his career by providing illustrations in the early 1930s for such left-wing magazines as Stânga and Cuvântul liber. In 1932 he had a one-man exhibition in Cluj, and in 1937 he published in Oradea the album Pita de mălai (Corn bread), which includes 12 drawings of the peasant life of Maramureş; these were dramatically detailed, showing the influences of Pieter Bruegel I and of Japanese prints - works that will be exhibited next year to the Contemporary Art Galleries in Paris. In 1944, he was deported to a Nazi concentration camps where he lose parents. Holocaust survivor, from 1950 until 1976 he was a lecturer, then professor at the Department of Graphic Arts of the Institute "Nicolae Grigorescu" in Bucharest.

Vasile Kazar brings to his work one of the most authentic testimony about a dramatic destiny assumed lucidly. From the late 1940s until c. 1958 he tried to conform to the aesthetic and ideological precepts of Socialist Realism, but in the early 1960s he reverted to the expressionism that had characterized his work of 1945-7, producing drawings that displayed a dreamlike touch in their scratchy line and biomorph imagery. He developed this style in the 1970s and 1980s in such series of drawings as Apparitions at the Old Court and From my Bestiary. He subsequently evolved a very subtle use of color, which became much harsher. He leaved behind a valuable work that includes cycles of illustrations, such as those for "Duin elegies. Sonnets to Orpheus" by Reiner Maria Rilke, "The Old Court Kings" by Mateiu Caragiale or for the poems of Catullus, hundreds of drawings which are the pride of private galleries and collections around the world. In 1992 Kazar donated 103 drawings, 7 prints and 6 sketchbooks to the Museum of Art in Bucharest. He left by legacy a small museum in a house of the eighteenth century, with antiques and textiles, in Vadu Izei, Maramureş, which became today a Memorial Museum.

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Grigore Brişcu

Grigore Brişcu (1884, Bârlad - 1965, Bucharest) was a great Romanian engineer and inventor.

Having a real inclined towards engineering, he joined in 1903 the National School of Bridges and Roads in Bucharest and followed also some courses in Paris. At the same time he joined the Faculty of Law in Iaşi, where he earned a degree in legal sciences.

He published in "Car Magazine" no. 48 of December 15, 1909, p. 8 and no. 53 of 1910, p. 98 the study titled "Helicopters", which showed that the helicopters are "practical, economical, safe operation and will be used widely by the general public". He was the first engineer who in 1909 began experimenting with the cyclic variation of rotor blade pitch in order to ensure horizontal flight and stability and piloting helicopters. Even today, the automatic deviation device is still one of the most important helicopter systems.

Grigore Brişcu stands as one of the most important theorists of mechanical flight. He made an helicopter model he named "air-carriage" which had all the features of a helicopter-like flying-machine: horizontal, vertical and lateral movement and fixed-point landing. It was equipped with two coaxial propellers rotating in contrary directions, whose angle of incidence of the blades may vary during rotation, to gain ascension force and propulsion. The solution was experimented by French aviator Paul Cornu (1881-1963), who built a prototype with an Antoinett engine. The Brişcu rotary engine was patented by the Romanian Office for Inventions (patent no. 2323/2046 of 1912).

Grigore Brişcu's contributions to the study and development of mechanical flight earned him a place among the greatest Romanian inventors of the 20th century.


The outline map of Romania...

... and an outstanding cloud!

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Marcel Chirnoagă

Marcel Chirnoagă (August 17, 1930, Buşteni - April 23, 2008) was a renowned Romanian artist. He graduated in 1952 the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics, Bucharest, following simultaneously liberal arts studies. He was member of Artists Union of Romania since 1953.

Marcel Chirnoagă made, over his lifetime, more than 3,000 works, excelling in drawings, engravings, paintings and sculptures, while being the author of one of the most important works of the Romanian 20th century, the cycle of engravings "Revelation".

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Ştefan Dimitrescu

Ştefan Dimitrescu (January 18, 1886, Huşi – May 22, 1933, Iaşi) was a Romanian Post-impressionist painter and draftsman.

Born in Huşi into a modest family, he completed his primary and secondary studies in his hometown. In 1902, deciding to follow his passion for music, he left for Iaşi, where he took cello classes at the Iaşi Conservatory. In summer of 1903, Dimitrescu entered the National School of Fine Arts in the city, studying in the same class as Nicolae Tonitza; the two studied under Gheorghe Popovici and Emanoil Bardasare. After graduation, Dimitrescu painted murals for the Orthodox churches in Agăş and Asău (Bacău County). Between 1912 and 1913, he studied in Paris, at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière, during which time he was attracted to Impressionism.

The grandfather

Drafted into the Romanian Army at the start of the Romanian Campaign of World War I, Dimitrescu was profoundly touched by the experience, and began painting tragic pieces that documented the misery brought by the conflict. Like his friend Tonitza, he began exploring social themes, such as queuing and the effects of bombardments.

Peasant women from Sălişte

In 1917, along with the painters Camil Ressu, Iosif Iser, Marius Bunescu and the sculptors Dimitrie Paciurea, Cornel Medrea, Ion Jalea and Oscar Han, he founded the Art of Romania association in their Iaşi refuge. In 1926, Dimitrescu, with Oscar Han, Francisc Şirato, and Nicolae Tonitza, established Grupul celor patru ("The Group of Four").

Turks in Mangalia

He became a teacher at the Iaşi National School of Fine Arts in 1927, and, during the next year, he was named its headmaster (a position he held until his death). Towards the end of his life, Dimitrescu began expanding his palette to cover more somber colors, while exploring compositions in which the background was stripped of details and usually of a dominant white.

Landscape from Mangalia

Most of Dimitrescu's paintings take inspiration mainly from the life of simple folk, and especially from that of Romanian peasants and miners; they attempt to portray Romanian traditions and way of life, drawing on his encounters with both Byzantine art and the work of Paul Cézanne.

Women on the beach

Part of his art (between 1926 and 1933) was inspired by his travels to Dobruja, and have been considered to be the most accomplished synthesis between his craft as a draftsman and his art as a painter.

Peasant women working at a loom

Many of his works are exhibited in Bârlad (at the Vasile Pârvan Museum), Bucharest (the National Museum of Art of Romania and the Zambaccian Museum), Cluj-Napoca (Cluj Art Museum) and in private collections outside Romania (in Austria, Belgium, France and Germany).

From Wikipedia.

Oscar Han

Oscar Han (1891, Bucharest - 1976, Bucharest) was a Romanian sculptor and writer. A student of Dimitrie Paciurea at the Academy of Arts in Bucharest, he was a member of the Group of Four together with painters Nicolae Tonitza, Francisc Şirato and Ştefan Dimitrescu. His works were exhibited mainly in Bucharest, but also at Romanian art exhibitions and international exhibitions in other European cities, such as Venice, Anvers, Paris, the Hague, Amsterdam, Barcelona. He wrote a monograph on Paciurea and a large number of chronicles and articles (collected in 1970 in the volume Chisels and Brushes). In carving portraits of personalities, the sculptor was deeply concerned with revealing the physical and moral features of his characters. When realizing monumental works of art his main interest went at once to the gesture rhetoric and the volumes grandeur and to the demanding palpability of the modeled figures. He was Honored Master of Arts.

First Kiss

The Archer

Michael the Brave

Male nude

Male nude